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GET LAMP Bob Supnik Interview


Published October 25, 2006


Bob Supnik represents a kind of interview I take great pride in: "Obscure, but critical". Even within text adventure circles, his name is not as well known as that of Don Woods, Willie Crowther, Scott Adams, or others. Yet Supnik holds an important place in the history of text adventures - while employed at DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation), he found the engineers enthralled with Adventure, but wanted to be able to play the game on something other than a mainframe, which had all sorts of limitations on use - so he ported the Adventure program to work on Minicomputers, and in doing so, released it freely, making the work of "a DEC engineer who wishes to remain anonymous" the gateway for many more machines to have the game. It could be argued that his work ensured that Adventure hit a much wider audience than it would have otherwise. Similarly, his work on the DUNGEON/ZORK program when it came out allowed the program to play on much smaller machines, which partially inspired the ZORK authors that such a thing could be done.

Bob is also behind Trailing Edge, an effort to port the functionality of mainframes to portable code, which allows older software to be played, run and analyzed by future generations - some questions also centered around that.

At the time of this interview, Bob was working on a new start-up company which was located in the very same old buildings in Maynard Massachusetts that DEC inhabited at the time he had done work on Adventure and Zork; one of the shots during the credits is of this building.


Producer Jason Scott
Audio/Visual sound, color
Language English


Shotlist

Bob Supnik sitting at his desk.

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